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How playing piano can be key to learning or improving at guitar

September is National Piano Month! Knowing how to play the piano or keyboard can be advantageous toward your guitar learning experience, whether you’re just starting out on guitar or a seasoned pro looking to polish your skills. If you have a couple of years of childhood piano lessons under your belt, you might be well on your way to better understanding the guitar!

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Here’s why:

Playing the piano helps with music theory

Every note on the piano is laid out horizontally, and there’s only one key per note, so it’s easy to know exactly where to put your fingers. This can be very helpful with reading music. It can also be helpful for better understanding how chords are structured, rather than memorizing patterns on a guitar.

Piano helps you develop strength and motor skills in both hands

This 2006 study from Cardiff University found that piano players actually showed development in the mapping of their motor cortices to increase speed and dexterity of their fingers. Playing piano with both hands can help make your strumming hand stronger and faster.

Playing piano can be useful for songwriting

Grammy-winning guitarist Eric Johnson said in a 2016 interview that every guitarist should learn piano, saying that learning the instrument can give you a new perspective on music that you can apply to any instrument.

“When you look at a piano, you can see every note,” Johnson told Total Guitar. “All 88 keys—the whole spectrum. It’s like laying out a long piece of paper that has all the architectural plans for a building. It’s a great center-point and home base to look at and study music.” You can apply that perspective to help you figure out chord and key changes, vocal arrangements, and more.

Piano is a “universal instrument”

Both of the Van Halen brothers, Eddie and Alex, learned to play piano at an early age. Eddie eventually became one of the most celebrated guitarists of all time, and he acknowledged how learning piano first helped him on his musical journey. In a 1981 Guitar World interview, Eddie said “the piano is a universal instrument. If you start there, learn your theory and how to read, you can go on to any other instrument”.

Here are some other famous guitarists who also play piano or keyboard:

Sir Paul McCartney

McCartney grew up with an upright piano in the front room of his family’s Liverpool home and learned how to play it by ear. He also composed what would become the melody to “When I’m Sixty-Four” on that piano.

Joni Mitchell

The prolific singer-songwriter took piano lessons for eighteen months starting at age seven before deciding she liked writing her own music more than doing piano exercises. Piano, along with guitar and Applachain dulcimer, is one of her primary instruments.

Pete Townshend

The guitarist/co-founder/songwriter of The Who is also an accomplished piano and keyboard player.

Keith Richards

The legendary Rolling Stones guitarist also knows how to play piano, and you can hear it on his solo recording A Stone Alone: Solo Sessions.

Steve Lukather

The sole continuous founding member of Toto started playing keyboards and drums before he taught himself guitar at age seven.

Check out the Steve Lukather player study to learn how to play like him!

Famous songs that started off as country songs

Many popular songs have country roots! Check out these hits that you might not know are covers of country songs.

Janis Joplin: ‘Me & Bobby McGee’

Joplin recorded her version of “Me and Bobby McGee” just days before her death in 1970. It was included on her album Pearl and became her only number-one hit. Prolific singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson penned the track, naming the character mentioned after a studio secretary Barbara “Bobbie” McKee. It was originally recorded by Roger Miller (of “King of the Road” fame), as well as Gordon Lightfoot, who helped take it to number one on the Canadian country charts. Kristofferson didn’t know Joplin had recorded the song until after her death.

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“Act Naturally”: The Beatles

The B-side of “Yesterday”, “Act Naturally” was penned by country singer/songwriter Johnny Russell. It was originally released by Buck Owens and the Buckaroos and went to number one on the Billboard Country singles chart in 1963. It has also been covered by country stars Loretta Lynn and Dwight Yoakam.

“I Will Always Love You”: Whitney Houston

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The show-stopping ballad from Houston’s 1992 film “The Bodyguard” became the singer’s signature song, but it was written by country music queen Dolly Parton. Parton wrote the song in 1973 as a goodbye to her business partner and mentor after she decided to go solo. She later said that she wrote both the ballad and her hit “Jolene” on the same day!

Parton hoped that the Godmother of Soul, Patti LaBelle, would record a version of the song. Labelle didn’t end up taking the song, but another huge star was interested in it – Elvis. Parton’s recording of the song was number one on the country charts in 1974, and she was interested in letting Presley cover it until she found out that it was standard for songwriters to sign over half of the publishing rights for any song Elvis recorded. Parton refused.

“I Swear”: All-4-One

R&B boy band All-4-One topped the charts in 1994 with their hit “I Swear”, taking the top spot for 11 consecutive weeks. However, the song has country roots – it was released by country singer John Michael Montgomery only one year prior. All-4-One and Montgomery teamed up to release a new duet version of the song for their 2015 album “Twenty+”.

“Ring of Fire”: Johnny Cash

One of Cash’s most iconic hits was actually a cover of a country song released by his sister-in-law, Anita Carter, and co-written by his wife, June Carter Cash. Carter’s version didn’t become a hit, but after Cash heard it, he said he had a dream about the song being accompanied by “Mexican horns”, and went with that vision for the song.

You can learn songs from Johnny Cash with Fret Zealot!

Fun facts about the cast of Fox’s Monarch

Fret Zealot is partnering up with Fox’s Monarch to bring songs from the show to you!

MONARCH is a new musical drama that follows country music’s biggest dynasty – and their quest to hold on to their throne. The show stars Susan Sarandon, Trace Adkins, and Anna Friel as members of the legendary country music family, the Romans. 

Here are some fun facts about members of the Monarch cast:

Trace Adkins – “Albie Roman” 

MONARCH: Trace Adkins in the series premiere of Monarch airing Sunday, Sept. 11, immediately following the FOX NFL doubleheader (8:00-9:00 PM ET, and simultaneously to all time zones). It then makes its time period premiere Tuesday, Sept. 20 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT). CR: FOX © 2022 FOX Media LLC.

His left pinky was cut off while he was working on an oil rig.

Doctors were able to reattach it, but he had to have doctors fuse the bones in a position so that he could still play guitar.

He was on “King of The Hill”.

Adkins voiced Elvin Mackleston on the FOX sitcom. His character was a friend of Lucky, Tom Petty’s character on the show. 

He’s afraid of snakes.

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Trace towers at 6’6”, but snakes give him the chills. He grew up in Louisiana, where snakes can be a real danger.

His favorite band is Lynyrd Skynyrd.

He also prefers The Rolling Stones over The Beatles.

He loves The Farmers’ Almanac. 

He said he has a nostalgic connection to the annual publication – his grandfather would read it religiously. 

Susan Sarandon – “Dottie Cantrell Roman” 

MONARCH: Susan Sarandon. CR: Drew Hermann /FOX © 2022 FOX Media LLC.

She participated in the Olympics – kind of.

Sarandon was one of eight women to carry the Olympic flag at the 2006 Turin, Italy Winter Games opening ceremony.

She landed her first film role without trying.

Sarandon attended a casting call for the 1970 movie “Joe” with then-husband Chris Sarandon to help read with him. Chris didn’t get the part, but Susan was cast in the movie.

She was very sick on the set of “Rocky Horror”.

Sarandon starred in the beloved cult classic “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” , and the set had no heat. Sarandon caught pneumonia after filming the pool scene, and although she was shaking with a fever, she refused to stop working.

She founded an international ping-pong club chain.

Sarandon is one of the founders of SPIN, a chain of franchised tennis table clubs that has locations in NYC, Boston, Chicago, Toronto, and more major cities.

She’s a dedicated activist.
Sarandon is well-known for her activism, using her platform to advocate for civil rights, presidential candidates and anti-war causes. She was appointed as a UNICEF Goodwill ambassador in 1999.

Anna Friel – “Nicolette Roman”

MONARCH: Anna Friel in the series premiere of Monarch airing Sunday, Sept. 11, immediately following the FOX NFL doubleheader (8:00-9:00 PM ET, and simultaneously to all time zones). It then makes its time period premiere Tuesday, Sept. 20 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT). CR: FOX © 2022 FOX Media LLC.

She’s actually English. 

Despite her Texas inflection on Monarch, Friel is English and her father was born in Ireland. 

She started acting at age 13. 

Friel made her acting debut as a teen on the British miniseries G.B.H., and then took on other roles in series like Coronation Street and Brookside. 

 

She had a longtime relationship with a Harry Potter actor. 

Friel and David Thewlis, who played Professor Lupin in the Harry Potter series, dated for a decade and have a daughter together. 

 

She has a successful stage career. 

In addition to acting in many TV series and films, Friel has also had successful runs in the theater business, performing on Broadway and London’s West End, including Holly Golightly in “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” and Yelena in “Uncle Vanya”. 

 

She’s an activist too. 

Friel works as an ambassador for the WWF wildlife charity. 

Beth Ditto – “Gigi Taylor-Roman”

MONARCH: Beth Ditto in the series premiere of Monarch airing Sunday, Sept. 11, immediately following the FOX NFL doubleheader (8:00-9:00 PM ET, and simultaneously to all time zones). It then makes its time period premiere Tuesday, Sept. 20 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT). CR: FOX © 2022 FOX Media LLC.

She’s had an extensive music career.
Ditto fronted indie rock band Gossip. The band was active from 1999 to 2016 and reunited for a world tour in 2019.

She also is active in the fashion industry.
Ditto has put out several clothing collections with retailer Evans, and opened and closed the spring 2011 Jean Paul Gaultier fashion show. She also launched a collaboration with MAC Cosmetics in 2012.

As a kid, she used to eat squirrels.
Ditto was born in Arkansas, and she caused a little bit of a stir in 2006 after saying in an interview that she ate squirrels like fried chicken as a kid. The admission caused some controversy from animal rights groups.

She was the first woman to be voted “Coolest Person in Rock”.
Ditto was bestowed the title in 2006 by British music magazine NME.

She’s a longtime activist.
Ditto has been a longtime activist for LGBTQ rights, feminism, and body positivity. She used to have her own advice column called “What would Beth Ditto do?” in the UK newspaper The Guardian.

Monarch airs Tuesday nights on Fox. Original and familiar songs from the show will be released on the Fret Zealot app each week after episodes air, allowing users to learn the songs through Fret Zealot’s innovative hardware and software system. 

Want to play guitar like Eddie Van Halen?

Want to play guitar like Eddie Van Halen?

You can “jump” right into learning his signature style with the Eddie Van Halen Player Study. This course covers the finger tapping pioneer’s signature style, including harmonics, bluesy licks, and pentatonic playing.

Background 

Edward Lodewijk Van Halen was born in Amsterdam to a Dutch multi-instrumentalist father and a mother who was from the island of Java in the Dutch East Indies. The family moved to California in 1962. Both Eddie and his brother Alex started playing the piano at age six. However, despite winning multiple piano competitions, Eddie told Esquire in 2012 that he never learned to read music. The boys were drawn to rock music and Eddie bought a drum kit when Alex bought a guitar, but after hearing Alex play the drum solo from “Wipe Out”, they swapped instruments. 

The brothers formed their first band, “The Broken Combs” in elementary school. Van Halen cites a fourth-grade lunchtime performance with that band as one of the things that made him want to be a professional musician. 

The brothers formed the band Mammoth in 1972, and David Lee Roth joined as lead singer two years later, when the band officially changed its name to Van Halen and started playing the Los Angeles club circuit. They opened for UFO in 1976, and KISS bassist Gene Simmons said he was backstage by the third song waiting to talk to the band. Simmons signed the band and had them record demos, including “Runnin’ With the Devil”, but KISS frontman Paul Stanley and manager Bill Aucoin didn’t want to sign the band to Aucoin’s management portfolio. Van Halen got their own record deal with Warner Records the next year. 

Style 

Eddie Van Halen popularized – but didn’t invent – the two-handed tapping technique. Steve Hackett, Genesis’ lead guitarist in the 1970s, is broadly credited with inventing the technique and was cited as one of Van Halen’s influences. Van Halen also named Led Zepplin’s Jimmy Page as an influence. Up until 2005, Van Halen held a patent for a support device that attaches to the back of an electric guitar, flipping it face upward and allowing the user to tap it like a keyboard. Van Halen liked to dabble in the construction of guitars, playing many custom and heavily-modified instruments throughout the years, including the “Frankenstrat”, a guitar he built out of various parts. 

 

Legacy 

Van Halen died in Oct. 2020 after a long battle with cancer. Before that, he donated 75 of his own guitars to the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, which gives instruments to students in low-income schools. Van Halen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, and Eddie is widely regarded as one of the best guitar players in rock history. 

 

Once you master Eddie Van Halen’s playing style, try one of these Van Halen song lessons!

Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love 

Eddie Van Halen wrote this song, but didn’t think it was good enough to show to his bandmates for a year! It was one of the few songs from the original David Lee Roth era that his replacement, Sammy Hagar, was willing to perform live. 

Panama 

“Panama” was reportedly written about a car David Lee Roth saw in Las Vegas, the “Panama Express”, after a reporter accused Roth of only writing songs about women, partying and fast cars, and Roth realized he hadn’t written any songs about fast cars. 

 

 

 

Want to learn to play guitar like David Gilmour?

Want to learn to play like David Gilmour of Pink Floyd?

With the David Gilmour Player study, you’ll be “Learning to Fly” by learning his signature use of bends, vibrato, double note rhythms and minor scale notes.

Background 

David Gilmour joined English rock band Pink Floyd as guitarist and co-vocalist in 1967, just before founding member Syd Barrett left. From a young age, Gilmour’s parents encouraged his passion for music, and Gilmour was inspired by artists like Elvis Presley, The Everly Brothers, and Bill Haley. According to a 2008 biography, Gilmour taught himself to play guitar using a record set and book by Pete Seeger. He met Barrett and fellow future Pink Floyd bandmate Roger Waters at 11. The boys attended different schools on the same road. He practiced guitar at lunchtime with Barrett. 

In 1962, Gilmour joined a blues band called “Jokers Wild”. They recorded an album of which only 50 copies were made. Gilmour busked around Spain and France with Barrett and some other friends in 1965. With very little money, the boys were arrested at one point, and Gilmour had to go to the hospital at one point for malnutrition. In 1967, Gilmour traveled to France with two of his “Jokers Wild” bandmates, performing under the names “Flowers” and “Bullitt”. The group was not financially successful, although Gilmour contributed vocals for two songs on the Brigette Bardot film Two Weeks in September. When the band got back to England later that year, they were so strapped for cash that they had to push their tour bus. 

Style

Gilmour’s playing style has been described as a link between Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen. He welds electric blues and rock guitar techniques in his playing, which utilizes vibrato with a whammy bar, string bending, and use of scales and arpeggios. In addition to guitar, Gilour plays bass, keyboards, banjo, lap steel, mandolin, harmonica, drums, and saxophone.

Legacy and awards 

Gilmour continued to play with Pink Floyd after Roger Waters left the band in 1985. He has also released four solo albums, was inducted into the U.S and U.K. Rock and Roll Hall of Fames, and was made a Commander of the Order of the British empire. He has also produced several artists including Dream Academy. 

The Kate Bush connection

English singer Kate Bush enjoyed a new surge of popularity in 2022 after her 1985 song “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” went viral, thanks to being used in the soundtrack for Stranger Things Part. 4. Gilmour is often credited with bringing Bush into the public eye. In the 1970s, he received a mixtape by the then 16-year-old Bush from a family friend, and paid for her to professionally record three demo tracks. He also arranged for the EMI executive who signed Bush to hear the tape.

Once you learn Gilmour’s signature style, you can test drive it with Pink Floyd lessons on the Fret Zealot app!

Comfortably Numb 

Gilmour wrote the music for one of Pink Floyd’s most recognizable songs, and Roger Waters wrote the lyrics. The song is part of their concept album The Wall (released in 1979) and was inspired by Waters being injected with a muscle relaxant to help with hepatitis symptoms before a show.

Wish You Were Here 

The original album version of “Wish You Were Here” switches from the previous track, “Have a Cigar”, as if it was played on a radio switching from station to station, including a snippet of classical music and a radio play between tracks. The audio was recorded from Gilmour’s car radio. Gilmour then plays the intro on a 12-string guitar and overdubs another acoustic guitar solo. The part is mixed to sound like someone is playing guitar with the radio.

Want to learn how to play guitar like Jimi Hendrix?

Learning the legendary Jimi Hendrix’s trademark technique with the Jimi Hendrix Player Study will put you in a “Purple Haze”. 

This course covers Hendrix’s signature style, including his chords-with-lead style, signature chords, and licks. 

James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix was the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music, according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.He was one of the pioneers of utilizing guitar amplifier feedback artistically, and helped to popularize tone-altering pedals like fuzz distortion, wah-wah, and Uni-Vibe. 

Background 

Young Hendrix had a tough upbringing – his parents had a rocky relationship, eventually divorcing when he was nine. In elementary school, he took to carrying a broom with him to pretend it was a guitar. This quirk attracted the attention of the school’s social worker, who petitioned the school to buy him a guitar. The school and Hendrix’s father both refused. 

Hendrix first got his hands on a string instrument while helping his dad with a side job. The client allowed Jimi to keep an old, one-stringed ukulele that was among the items being removed from her home – and he taught himself by ear to play Elvis Presley songs. He bought his first guitar for $5 (about $51 in 2022) and played for hours every day. He listened to artists like Muddy Waters, B.B. King, and Robert Johnson for inspiration. 

With the acoustic, he formed his first band, but could barely be heard without amplification. His father bought him a white Supro Ozark in mid-1959. 

When Hendrix joined the army (instead of going to prison for riding in stolen cars) he wrote his father a letter begging him to send him his guitar. A fellow serviceman, Billy Cox, heard him playing and the two began playing at base clubs in a band, playing in a band, according to a 2006 biography on Hendrix. Hendrix completed training as a paratrooper, but was found unsuitable for service and was granted a general discharge under honorable conditions in 1962.

Billy Cox was also discharged from the Army shortly after, and the pair moved to Tennessee and began playing in a band. Hendrix performed in his own band as well as backing bands for acts like Wilson Pickett, Jackie Wilson, The Isley Brothers, and Little Richard, before signing his own recording contract. 

Style 

"Brenton Bersin played bass for Hendrix at Woodstock, August 18th, 1969." by Curtis Gaston is marked with Public Domain Mark 1.0.

Hendrix didn’t use the standard barre chord fretting technique most of his peers employed – instead, he fretted notes on the 6th string with his thumb. The technique let him to sustain the chord’s root notes while playing the melody, a method sometimes called “piano style”. Hendrix drew from diverse genres including blues, jazz, American folk music, 1950s rock and roll, and soul to create his trademark style, and his music has helped shape the development of heavy metal, hard rock, post-punk, hip-hop and grunge music.

                                                 Awards and legacy 

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Hendrix influenced many great artists who came after him, including Prince, John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Robert Smith of The Cure, Black Sabbath , A Tribe Called Quest, Run-DMC, and Halsey. The Greenwich Village studio he commissioned, Electric Lady Studios, has been used by artists like U2, Kanye West, and Lady Gaga. Hendrix received many awards throughout his life and posthumously, including 1968’s “Performer of the Year” by Rolling Stone and was ranked #1 on the same publication’s list of greatest guitarists of all time. He was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1991, the Jimi Hendrix Experience was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, and his debut album, Are You Experienced, was added to the U.S. National Recording Registry in the Library of Congress in 2005. 

Want to get started on your guitar journey? The Fret Zealot apps are the best way to learn guitar with thousands of video lessons, 80,000 song tracks, every chord and scale, 60 alternate tunings, and so much more.

The optional Fret Zealot LED system fits just next to your frets and shows you color coded finger positions to play anything you want.

Great guitarists who learned later in life

You’re never too old to pick up a guitar and start learning! Although most guitar greats started playing their instruments as children, there are some musicians who started playing in college or later and still found great success in music. 

Here are some guitarists who learned later in life: 

 

Tom Morello 

"Tom Morello, Rage Against the Machine @ Christiania 1993" by pellesten is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello started playing guitar at age 17 – not an advanced age, but later than many famous guitarists. Morello told Q on CBC that he had only heard of one guitarist who had made albums who started playing that late – Robert Johnson, the blues master rumored to have sold his soul to the devil for musical prowess. 

“Given my Catholic upbringing, that was not an option on the menu,” Morello joked. Instead, he devoted himself to practicing six to eight hours a day as an undergraduate at Harvard University.

Glen Tipton 

Judas Priest guitarist Glen Tipton learned piano from his mother at an early age, but didn’t start playing guitar until he was 19. Tipton’s brother played guitar, and Tipton said he would sneak into his brother’s room to play the guitar when he was gone.  His unique guitar technique includes classically-influenced solos inspired by his piano background. Tipton has never had formal guitar lessons.

Chuck Berry 

"Chuck Berry in 1957" by US Department of State is marked with Public Domain Mark 1.0.

The Father of Rock and Roll had an early interest in music and performed at his high school, but his musical career was interrupted when he was arrested for armed robbery and sent to a reformatory until his 21st birthday. After being released, Berry married and had children, worked various jobs and bought a home in St. Louis. He was in his mid-twenties by the time he picked up a guitar again and started playing nightclubs with bands. His song, “Maybellene”, helped him land his first record deal. It’s considered the first rock ‘n’ roll song by many music historians.

You can learn Chuck Berry’s signature style with the The Guitar of Chuck Berry course! It features 100 lessons covering the most important aspects of the Chuck Berry guitar style. 

Tom Scholz 

"File:TomScholz.JPG" by Weatherman90 at English Wikipedia is licensed under CC BY 3.0.

Boston’s remaining original member, Tom Scholz, was a classically trained pianist and an MIT-trained engineer who built out his own recording studio. He was 21 when he started learning guitar, a skill he originally thought would just be a hobby. But while working as an engineer at Polaroid, Scholz worked on original music that eventually resulted in a record deal. 

Wes Montgomery

As a child, jazz guitarist John Leslie “Wes” Montgomery learned on a four-string tenor guitar, but had to start over on a six-string years later. Montgomery was married and working as a welder when he heard a Charles Christian record for the first time – inspiring him to buy a six-string guitar the next day. By age 20, he was playing in clubs with a day job at a milk company. A self-taught guitarist, Montgomery’s string-plucking with the side of his thumb and extensive use of octaves gave him a one-of-a-kind sound.

Want to get started on your guitar journey? The Fret Zealot apps are the best way to learn guitar with thousands of video lessons, 80,000 song tracks, every chord and scale, 60 alternate tunings, and so much more.

The optional Fret Zealot LED system fits just next to your frets and shows you color coded finger positions to play anything you want.

How these famous guitarists learned how to play

Have you ever wondered how your favorite guitarists learned to play? No professional guitarist starts out as an expert – some of the world’s most famous guitarists were self-taught, some took traditional lessons, and some had other musical backgrounds before picking up a guitar. 

Here’s how these famous guitarists learned how to play their instruments.

Kurt Cobain

Nirvana frontman and guitarist Kurt Cobain was born into a musical family. His uncle played in a band called The Beachcombers, his aunt Mari played guitar in bands, and his great-uncle was an Irish tenor who was featured in 1930’s King of Jazz. According to Mari, Cobain began singing at the age of two and was singing and playing the piano at four. For his 14th birthday, Cobain’s uncle let him choose between a bike and a used guitar as a gift, and he chose the guitar. He learned songs by Queen and Led Zeppelin before starting to work on his own songs. Cobain was forced to write with his right hand, but he played guitar left-handed.

Slash

Legendary Guns ‘N Roses guitarist Slash originally planned to learn the bass before picking up a guitar.

Slash told Marshall Podcast that he didn’t have either instrument when he showed up for his first music lesson at age ten. His instructor showed him some guitar licks by Cream, and Slash said he realized that was what he wanted to play. The young Slash didn’t enjoy taking lessons, but his teacher promised him that if he learned the basics, he would teach him to play whatever he wanted. The instructor kept his word, and showed Slash how to learn by ear. Slash quit after a few lessons and continued to learn by ear.

Learn Slash’s signature style with the Slash Player Study.

Brian May 

Queen guitarist (and astrophysicist) Brian May’s enthusiasm for guitar started early, when his father taught him a few chords on the ukulele. At seven, he was given a Spanish guitar and also started taking piano lessons. 

The family didn’t have a lot of money, but Brian’s father had a background in engineering. When Brian was 15, they built an electric guitar together from scratch, creating the “Red Special” that May still uses today. The process took about 18 months, using an 18th century fireplace mantle for the neck, oak for the body, and pearl buttons for the fret markers. 

Learn Brian May’s style with the Brian May Player Study.

Jimi Hendrix

According to a 2010 biography about the guitar legend, when Jimi Hendrix was in elementary school, he had a habit of carrying a broom with him and pretending it was a guitar. After a year of this, the school’s social worker took note and requested funding from the school to buy young Hendrix a real guitar. However, the school and Hendrix’s father both refused. Young Hendrix did get his hands on a one-stringed ukulele after finding it in the garbage he and his father were removing from a home during a side job. He was able to teach himself Elvis Presley songs by ear. The next year, at age 15, Hendrix bought his first acoustic guitar. He played for hours every day, listening to blues artists like B.B. King and Robert Johnson.

Learn Jimi Hendrix’s trademark style with the Jimi Hendrix player study.

                                                           John Mayer

"Crossroads Festival 2010 - John Mayer" by aaronHwarren is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

According to an LA Times article, young John Mayer became infatuated with the guitar after watching Marty McFly’s performance in Back to The Future. Mayer’s father rented a guitar for him to play when he turned 13, and a Stevie Ray Vaughan cassette tape gifted to him by a neighbor helped Mayer develop his affection for the blues. Mayer took guitar lessons from a guitar shop owner in his Bridgeport, Connecticut hometown. His preoccupation with the instrument concerned his parents so much that they took him to see a psychiatrist, who assured them he was fine.

Learn John Mayer’s technique with the John Mayer Player Study.

Jack White 

 

White Stripes lead singer and guitarist Jack White had older brothers who were in a band, and he played their hand-me-down instruments, including a drum kit he found in the attic. White told 60 Minutes in 2005 that he had planned to become a priest, and was even accepted into a Wisconsin seminary, but he had just gotten a new amplifier and wasn’t sure if he’d be able to bring it with him. Instead, he went to a technical high school and played drums and trombone in a band, and began playing guitar in a band while doing an apprenticeship with a family friend. 

 

Want to get started on your guitar journey? The Fret Zealot apps are the best way to learn guitar with thousands of video lessons, 80,000 song tracks, every chord and scale, 60 alternate tunings, and so much more.

The optional Fret Zealot LED system fits just next to your frets and shows you color coded finger positions to play anything you want.

 

These are the hardest courses to learn with Fret Zealot

You’ve mastered chords and scales and you’re well on your way to being a guitar star – so what’s next? You can take on a new challenge with one of these advanced skill level courses on the Fret Zealot app!

John Mayer Player Study 

 

Learn the “continuum” of John Mayer’s unique playing style with the John Mayer Player Study! This course will take you through Mayer’s signature fingerstyle patterns, favored chord shapes, and percussive elements to help you nail his catalog in style. 

This complete course will walk you through Mayer’s bluesier styles, his lead guitar approach, and how to add licks, chord inversions, and bends to master his style. 

Jimi Hendrix Player Study 

If you want to play guitar like a legend, this course is for you! 

The Jimi Hendrix course will take you through Hendrix’s trademark chords-with-lead style, breaking down his licks and favored chord shapes, so you can incorporate elements of his style in your own playing. 

Jimmy Page Player Study

Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page defined the band’s sound by blending traditional blues music with new progressive guitar styles! This course covers Page’s legato skills, chord shapes, and use of full scale. 

Steve Lukather Player Study 

Steve Lukather is the sole continuous founding member of Toto – but he also is a virtuosic guitar player and has contributed licks to albums like Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and Boz Scaggs’ “Middle Man”. This course will take you through Lukather’s techniques, including fast mixolydian runs, hybrid picking, and “liquid playing”.

Joe Bonamassa – Player Study

American blues rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa got his start at age 12 opening for B.B. King, and is famous for his fast runs and melodies! This course will teach you Bonamassa’s pentatonic shapes, signature licks, and legato-style playing. 

B.B. King Player Study 

You can’t learn the blues without studying The King of The Blues! This course takes you through King’s legendary style, including combining the major and minor pentatonic scales, string bending, and staccato picking. 

How to find time to practice guitar each day

Picture this – you get home from work, plan to practice guitar for a good amount of time – but then, the laundry needs to be flipped over, the dishes need washing, you have to walk the dog – and by the time you’re finished, it’s time for bed. How often does this happen to you?

Finding time to practice during busy days is tough, but with a few easy strategies, you can work in more time to play – and improve your skills!

Here’s what you can do: 

Set reminders for yourself.     

 Leave a sticky note on the fridge or bathroom mirror to remind you to make some time for guitar! Having a visible reminder will help you think about practicing, even when it’s a little chaotic at home. You can even set an alarm on your phone to alert you when it’s time to step away for a guitar break. 

Practice for a shorter time. 

                                                                You don’t need to devote hours every day to your instrument to get better. Just like physical exercise, any amount of time spent practicing in a day is better than none! If you can find 20 minutes a day to practice, that’s 121 hours per year!

Consistency is key. Try waking up 20 minutes earlier if you’re productive in the mornings, or go to bed 20 minutes later if you’re a night owl. (Don’t forget to use headphones if you live with other people!) 

 

 Inspire yourself

                                                                  Which bands or artists inspire you to play guitar? Listen to a playlist of their songs on your way home or during work to remind yourself why you wanted to pick up a guitar in the first place. And don’t forget – everyone starts somewhere! The best guitarists in the world once had to practice the basics too.

Utilize commercial breaks! 

If you watch TV, you can use the commercial breaks as practice opportunities! Run through some scales or a new riff while you’re waiting for your show to return. It’s easier to stay focused for a few minutes at a time than a longer chunk of time. 

Try a Fret Zealot course! 

Fret Zealot has a huge library of guitar courses, from a Beginner’s Guitar Gym to a Rock and Blues Lead Guitar course. You can study the techniques of greats like Angus Young and Jimi Hendrix or take it easy with a Musical Meditations Course. All of our courses can be taken at your own pace! Check out the full list of available courses here.

 Make it fun! 

Don’t forget – playing guitar should be fun! You can keep practicing from feeling like a chore by learning songs you want to play – new songs on the radio, favorites from years past, or even songs that you’ve never heard before for a new challenge! 

You can find over 3,000 courses and song lessons in the Fret Zealot app, as well as over 80,000 song tracks, every chord and scale, 60 alternative tunings, and so much more!